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Bit thrown off by my first road bike - is this too small?

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Bit thrown off by my first road bike - is this too small?

Old 05-24-21, 01:40 PM
  #26  
kolt54321
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Originally Posted by SJX426 View Post
@kolt54321 - Nice bike that looks like from the early 70's. French so the parts are French dimensions and not compatible with English or Italian. Need a knowledgeable LBS to work on it.

Fit is everything and it is hard to tell if it is too big or not. Measure from the center of the crank to the intersection of the center of the seat tube and top tube. I would not be surprised if it measures around 56cm.
My 1972 Motobecane Le Champion 24in or about 61cm
1972 Motobecane Le Champion 24" on Flickr
Note the length of the head tube and the distance between the top tube and downtube. Yours is quite a bit less.

My inseam is about 32 inches from bare foot on the floor to the crotch bone. The old school way is to straddle the top tube with riding shoes on and lift the bike by the saddle and handlebars. It should move about 1/2 to 1 inch. This was done to keep from getting pains in that region.
When you sit upright on a bike you are on the seat. When you are leaning forward on a typical drop bar road bike, you are on the saddle. The saddle mounts to either a post or pillar. It height should be as stated above, knee slightly bent with the pedal at the most distant from the saddle.

WRT handbag position. There are two, height and how far from the saddle. I am over 71 and ride my bikes with 2-3 inch drop of the stem from the saddle. My starting point for the stem length is when my hands are in the position on the handlebars, either in front of the brakes or on the hoods, the front hub is "hidden" by the bar. That gets me really close to the right position. if you have a strong core, you should be able to take your hands off the handlebars and not move your upper body. keep in mind there are three points of contact with the bike, hand, bottom and feet. They should be in balance.

WRT the hoods, you brake levers never had them and there aren't any to be had as you also have the levers that extend to the center of the handlebar. Those brake bases are not comfortable to use in riding "on the hood" position. That is one part you can replace without too much searching as it is not a unique French dimension.

The more you ride the more comfortable you will become, up or downhill. "just do it."
Thanks! And nice ride - it looks beautiful.

I've been procrastinating fitting it but I really should. When I measured from mid-crank to the beginning of the seat tube, it came to 21 inches (~53.3 cm) on the dot.

I need to give it another go, but I think my main issue is that the top tube is much shorter than on my Trek. In other words, the distance between the seat/saddle and the handlebars is short, fatiguing my hands as I continuously need to bear my own weight. It's possible this is the case with all roadbikes, but is certainly a departure from the hybrid I'm used to riding on - even though the measurement from crank to seatpost is shorter by at least half an inch, the bike "feels" a lot larger.
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Old 05-24-21, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by overthebars View Post
I’m surprised no one asked whether you can clear the top tube standing flat-footed - from the pic it looks doubtful. Isn’t that one method of determining whether or not a bike frame size is in the ballpark?
Yep! It's just baggy pants, I can clear the top tube fairly well with may .5-1 inch to spare.
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Old 05-24-21, 01:45 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
That bike has some beautiful geometry. I love the way the fork angles forward, essentially making it much more stable. I would wager money that it's a 60cm frame and might be a tad large for your build, but adjust it as best you can for yourself and your body will more than likely adapt to it with riding. Good luck and enjoy,
21 inches (53-4cm) actually! I'm just small at 5'7 lol.

Are the top tubes on road bikes traditionally shorter than on hybrids? I believe that's the "source" of my discomfort.
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Old 05-24-21, 01:55 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by kolt54321 View Post
21 inches (53-4cm) actually! I'm just small at 5'7 lol.

Are the top tubes on road bikes traditionally shorter than on hybrids? I believe that's the "source" of my discomfort.
Typically the TT is equal to the ST. Measure to the intersection of the center of the tubes not the beginning of the TT or the top of the TT along the seat tube. Those are the two conventions of measurement. Anything else is subject to interpretation.

Another old school measurement is to put your elbow on the nose of the saddle and the tip of your finger should just touch the handlebar by the stem. We didn't talk about fore/aft seat loacation. KOP, knee over pedal is yet another measure. When sitting on the saddle and the right pedal in tthe 3:00 positon, your knee should be over your ball of the foot. Some say the front of the knee should be over the center of the ball of your foot. Its all ball park anyway. The more you ride the preferences will modify the initial settings.
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Old 05-24-21, 01:59 PM
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Paging Moisture to the white courtesy phone for a bike fit question.
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Old 05-24-21, 02:04 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Paging Moisture to the white courtesy phone for a bike fit question.
And I'll be taking pictures later today, so you have something to judge by!
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Old 05-24-21, 04:25 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by SJX426 View Post
Typically the TT is equal to the ST. Measure to the intersection of the center of the tubes not the beginning of the TT or the top of the TT along the seat tube. Those are the two conventions of measurement. Anything else is subject to interpretation.

Another old school measurement is to put your elbow on the nose of the saddle and the tip of your finger should just touch the handlebar by the stem. We didn't talk about fore/aft seat loacation. KOP, knee over pedal is yet another measure. When sitting on the saddle and the right pedal in tthe 3:00 positon, your knee should be over your ball of the foot. Some say the front of the knee should be over the center of the ball of your foot. Its all ball park anyway. The more you ride the preferences will modify the initial settings.
Measurements like this? Fit pics are coming - it's worth noting that while my foot would probably be a bit more forward on the pedal when riding, the knee does look pretty forward.




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Old 05-24-21, 04:27 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Paging Moisture to the white courtesy phone for a bike fit question.
Fit pics below... ain't pretty with my other foot keeping the bike straight! Still, I hope this can shed light as to why it feels so uncomfortable during the initial rides.




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Old 05-24-21, 07:59 PM
  #34  
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U look like you're in blimey England, old mate. You done good on the measurements. Now if it were me, I would want to move the seat up (cm at a time) and push it back. You might also have the nose of the seat angled down too much. Start with it perfectly level and then fine tune from there. If it's angling down at the nose you will be forced to lean more into your arms as the seat wants to push you forward. Racers might like that, most people like you and I don't. The way you're holding the drops tells me that you need to roll the handlebars forward/down or your wrists are going to take a beating in short order. When in the drops, it should feel as natural as shaking someones hand and still have a finger or two on the brake lever. That's a beautiful bike and it should fit you fine, it's just a matter of setting it up. I'm sure not everyone will agree with my opinions, but they're mine and I'm sticking to them (stiff upper lip and all) Good day,
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Old 05-24-21, 08:17 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
U look like you're in blimey England, old mate. You done good on the measurements. Now if it were me, I would want to move the seat up (cm at a time) and push it back. You might also have the nose of the seat angled down too much. Start with it perfectly level and then fine tune from there. If it's angling down at the nose you will be forced to lean more into your arms as the seat wants to push you forward. Racers might like that, most people like you and I don't. The way you're holding the drops tells me that you need to roll the handlebars forward/down or your wrists are going to take a beating in short order. When in the drops, it should feel as natural as shaking someones hand and still have a finger or two on the brake lever. That's a beautiful bike and it should fit you fine, it's just a matter of setting it up. I'm sure not everyone will agree with my opinions, but they're mine and I'm sticking to them (stiff upper lip and all) Good day,
Thanks! That's some good tips, I've forgotten that seats can be pushed back (I believe this one can but never tried - if not there are always others).

IIRC the seat is fairly level, I'm just sitting awkwardly due to the distance. Good not on the handlebars - how would that affect riding in the hoods? I prefer the hoods though since it is bare metal it feels... weird (could be I'm not used to it). I don't have a picture here yet, sadly, but would angling it down put pressure on my wrists while on the hood?

This is the seat - I reckon getting the bolt off would allow the seat to go back, never had tried. Is that common or are saddles generally static in horizontal placement?

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Old 05-25-21, 08:51 AM
  #36  
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If you loosen those nuts on either side of the clamp you can slide the seat forwards or back. You can also change the angle that way. You don't really have 'hoods', but yes, rolling the bars would move the top of the brake mechanism further out. With your hands on the top of the bar do you have any problems using the inside brake levers?
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Old 05-25-21, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
If you loosen those nuts on either side of the clamp you can slide the seat forwards or back. You can also change the angle that way. You don't really have 'hoods', but yes, rolling the bars would move the top of the brake mechanism further out. With your hands on the top of the bar do you have any problems using the inside brake levers?
Good question - the brake levers on both sides are actually further out than I'd like them to be. In the drops I can't reach the brakes easily, but from the tops it's better. I rarely ride through streets (generally road-like trails here) so not as important to me, though I'm not one to underestimate safely.

I'll try adjusting the seat back then, that should solve most of the issue.
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Old 05-25-21, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by kolt54321 View Post
Good question - the brake levers on both sides are actually further out than I'd like them to be. In the drops I can't reach the brakes easily, but from the tops it's better. I rarely ride through streets (generally road-like trails here) so not as important to me, though I'm not one to underestimate safely.

I'll try adjusting the seat back then, that should solve most of the issue.
I would also try adjusting it up just a tinch and see what you think. Remember, you won't get complete comfort with a simple test ride, you body will do a lot of conforming with several rides under your belt and the bike will gradually feel more 'right' to you. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 05-25-21, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by kolt54321 View Post
This is the seat - I reckon getting the bolt off would allow the seat to go back, never had tried. Is that common or are saddles generally static in horizontal placement?
The arrangement of the fastening bolt or bolts varies, but seat posts generally allow changing both the fore-and-aft position of the saddle (by varying where the saddle rails are clamped) and also the tilt of the saddle.
It can be a bit tedious to get the saddle position and tilt 'right', since the two adjustments aren't always independent - loosening the bolt(s) can allow 'everything' to move. Be patient - getting it right is important for comfort.

A previous suggestion was to balance in a doorway or next to a wall where you can steady yourself with an arm or your elbows. I find that useful since the seat feels completely different with both feet on the pedals, and hands on the bars.
Once you have the adjustments 'almost right' take your wrenches and go for a ride in your neighbourhood - you can make more changes at the side of the (quiet) road.
Once you put some miles on the bike (and your butt) you may change your ideas about what feels comfortable. It's pretty rare to find a cyclist who has completely stopped making small changes in saddle, bars, pedals, etc etc...
BTW, getting cycling shorts with padding will make life on the saddle more comfortable. You can wear them under baggy shorts if you aren't ready to join the Lycra crowd just yet.

Nice classic looking bike, BTW.
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Old 06-05-21, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by kolt54321 View Post

This is the seat - I reckon getting the bolt off would allow the seat to go back, never had tried. Is that common or are saddles generally static in horizontal placement?

Your saddle is already set back about as far as it can safely go. You shouldn’t push it back beyond the black markings on the rail. I can see the rail is already slightly bent and moving it even further back will make it more prone to bending at the back end. You shouldn’t clamp the seat very close to the end of the straight section of the rail. Maybe time for a new vintage saddle? You might find one with more fore-aft adjustment.
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Old 06-05-21, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
I would also try adjusting it up just a tinch and see what you think. Remember, you won't get complete comfort with a simple test ride, you body will do a lot of conforming with several rides under your belt and the bike will gradually feel more 'right' to you. Good luck and keep us posted.

And, moving the seat up will also move it back, since the seat tube is angled.
There are lots of possibilities for changing the fit of a bike - different saddles with longer rails, different seat posts and stems, different cranks, etc..
Ideally, two things should be in place: a bike fit (with a pro or even DIY with internet info and a helper) and a well-stocked parts bin.
Buying a lot of new parts for an older bike can get uneconomic.
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Old 09-03-21, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by VicBC_Biker View Post

And, moving the seat up will also move it back, since the seat tube is angled.
There are lots of possibilities for changing the fit of a bike - different saddles with longer rails, different seat posts and stems, different cranks, etc..
Ideally, two things should be in place: a bike fit (with a pro or even DIY with internet info and a helper) and a well-stocked parts bin.
Buying a lot of new parts for an older bike can get uneconomic.
Hey Vic! I finally got it out and adjusted the seat up, which definitely helped a bit. I think (not entirely sure though) that the most comfortable position with the seat would be just a bit further back though - maybe another two inches. Are there any affordable recommendations for brands of saddles with longer rails (more fore/aft)? I'm still very much a beginner, so it's probably best if I don't mess with new posts/stems or cranks.

Unfortunately I don't have updated pictures on hand! But with the seat up a bit I'm starting to understand how it should ideally feel in the drops, though there still is a tiny bit of "pressure" of leaning forward. Tried adjusting the angle of the seat up/down, but that didn't make too much of a difference.
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Old 09-03-21, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Your saddle is already set back about as far as it can safely go. You shouldn’t push it back beyond the black markings on the rail. I can see the rail is already slightly bent and moving it even further back will make it more prone to bending at the back end. You shouldn’t clamp the seat very close to the end of the straight section of the rail. Maybe time for a new vintage saddle? You might find one with more fore-aft adjustment.
Thanks Pete! I went out and finally played around with it this weekend. Pushing up the saddle helped as the post is angled, but not enough unfortunately (90% of the way there). I think I also found that it'd help with pedalling to be a bit further back. Any tips on finding a saddle with more fore/aft adjustment, or it's just case by case? I'm assuming seats are universally supported, but I may be wrong.

Either way, some lessons learned - geometry really does make a difference! Next time I'll look for a bike that's more comfortable from the onset, but I do hope I can make this one work by finding a seat that can allow me to sit further back. I'm lightweight, so hoping such a seat won't cause much stress on the rail.

A quick check at what others were selling near me showed seats that look... fairly similar, like the below. Not any more to adjust on these, it looks like.




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Old 09-03-21, 07:39 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
BTW, your photo shows that the valve stems of the tubes are skewed; they should point directly to the center of the hub. That's not an esthetic issue. The skewing stresses the valve stems and reportedly can lead to premature failure. This might help you fix it yourself : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE2xdvhAYCE. I think you can do it simply by deflating the tube. I've never had to take out the mechanism, but I've only had the problem with Presta valves.
Thanks for the heads up! It was as simple as deflating the tube, and moving the tire on the rim half an inch. Don't have pictures on me just yet but it worked well!
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Old 09-03-21, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by kolt54321 View Post
Thanks Pete! I went out and finally played around with it this weekend. Pushing up the saddle helped as the post is angled, but not enough unfortunately (90% of the way there). I think I also found that it'd help with pedalling to be a bit further back. Any tips on finding a saddle with more fore/aft adjustment, or it's just case by case? I'm assuming seats are universally supported, but I may be wrong.

Either way, some lessons learned - geometry really does make a difference! Next time I'll look for a bike that's more comfortable from the onset, but I do hope I can make this one work by finding a seat that can allow me to sit further back. I'm lightweight, so hoping such a seat won't cause much stress on the rail.

A quick check at what others were selling near me showed seats that look... fairly similar, like the below. Not any more to adjust on these, it looks like.
SMP saddles usually have very long rails with a lot of fore-aft adjustment. But they are a bit of an acquired taste and can be expensive.
Your alternative is a new seatpost with more setback.
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